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The ultimate vitamin for mothers - folic acid

Why is folic acid so important?

Folic acid is the ultimate “vitamin for mothers”, as mothers-to-be have a significantly increased need for folic acid. Whereas the requirement for folic acid before pregnancy is about 400µg, it goes up to 600µg during pregnancy. That is a 50% increase!

 

In general, the intake of folic acid in food is not sufficient. Folic acid belongs to the group of B vitamins. It is an all-rounder. On one hand, it is important in aiding cell division and contributes substantially to the formation of new cells. On the other hand, it supports the formation of blood and the development of the brain.

 

Good sources of folic acid

Lettuce, vegetables (e.g., broccoli), tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, meat and wholemeal products are rich in folic acid. However, folic acid is very sensitive. Heat, light and oxygen will destroy it almost completely and make it ineffective. During pregnancy, it is nearly impossible to ingest sufficient folic acid through food. A pregnant woman would have to eat about 20kg of broccoli per day to cover the increased requirements of folic acid.

That is why foods enriched with folic acid and special dietary supplements are of prime importance for mother and child during this sensitive stage of life. Furthermore, folic acid is very quickly used up by the body, especially is twins or multiple births are on the way, or in cases of closely spaced pregnancies. It is good advice to always watch your folic acid intake, not only during pregnancy. Your stocks should already be full before your pregnancy!

For women wanting a baby, a sufficient intake of folic acid is important, even before you find out that you are pregnant.

Deficiency symptoms

Folic acid deficiency causes tiredness and fatigue. In extreme cases, developmental anomalies of the child may occur, like “split spine”, a defect caused by the incomplete closing of the neural tube. Further possible consequences: cleft lip and palate. That is why an intake of folic acid is of particular importance during the embryonic stage (the first trimester of pregnancy).